Indonesian ad agency Ceritera ran a recruitment ad featuring a mini-skirted flight attendant (the ad used the word stewardess) and copy which read, "We have an ex-stewardess on board. Things are looking good. Not only business-wise, but also view-in-the-office wise, since we had a former flight attendant join us a while ago."
The ad seeks a Senior Video Editor and goes on to read, "here at Ceritera, you can impress her with your warm, romantic and savvy editing skills, and woo her with your leadership & mature work ethic."
Where oh where do I start?
Predictably, the ad has received an onslaught of criticism. It would have been bad enough if the agency ran this ad, succumbed to the criticism, pulled it and apologized. But the agency initially defended the ad vigorously.
In reaction to criticism, the agency wrote on its Facebook page: "Thank you for your input. We ran out of ideas and this disgusting piece of sexism is all we could think of right now. We'll try to do better."
To a Facebook post which read: "At least you are honest that you hired a woman to create a 'beautiful scenery' at the office. Are we still living in the Mad Men era?," the agency responded, posting: "You are assuming: This girl is highly qualified, and apparently she's an ex-stewardess. Did we ever say we hire someone (particularly the ex-stewardess) because of their good looks? You should see how ugly the other girls are in the office. Hideous."
Seriously? Seriously? Joke or not, referring to employees as hideous is, well, I just don't have a word right now. Please feel free to insert your own.
Another Facebook user Devi Asmarani said, "Ceritera – You guys really f****d up, just admit it. This isn't 1950s, when this kind of ads might be called 'witty'. Wake up, it's 2016!"
In a Facebook post which has now been deleted, the agency's creative director, Edward Suhadi, reportedly posted a ten-point rebuttal to critics explaining why the ad isn't sexist and why everyone coming to that conclusion is just way off base. He noted the ad was "bloody brilliant" and everyone should just "lighten up."
Displaying a complete misunderstanding of how things have changed since the 1960s, Suhadi included in his ten-point list, "I work in marketing and communication with brands. I know sexism, harassment, so on and so on. I handle brands for a living. So I know a stuff or two. This, is not sexism. It’s a naughty copy edging on it, but not sexism."
Again, *face palm*
Anyway, while the agency did try to ride out the backlash with embarrassing attempts at witty Facebook posts, Suhadi ultimately caved and posted an apology which read: "I tried to make an unconventional vacancy ad, trying a different take. Some of you loved it, and obviously some of you despised it. I never meant for this ad to be sexist, and it never crossed my mind to hurt or harass anyone. I sincerely apologized for any discomfort or disrespect that is caused by it."
The agency's Join the Team page reads: "If you think you're the right BOY/GIRL for the job, contact firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject: CR." Yup, BOY/GIRL. Not surprising this ad came from an agency that refers to potential employees as boys and girls.